The statistical chances of their being other intelligent life in the universe are “exceptionally rare,” according to a new study from the University of Oxford.
In the paper, scientists from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, theorize that as life evolved on earth, in many cases it depended on a series of unlikely “revolutionary transitions.” Given how late intelligent life evolved on this planet, the chances of similar developments happening on other planets, before they are no longer able to sustain life, were highly unlikely, they said.
“It took approximately 4.5 billion years for a series of evolutionary transitions resulting in intelligent life to unfold on Earth,” they wrote in the paper published last month. “In another billion years, the increasing luminosity of the Sun will make Earth uninhabitable for complex life.
“Together with the dispersed timing of key evolutionary transitions and plausible priors, one can conclude that the expected transition times likely exceed the lifetime of Earth, perhaps by many orders of magnitude,” the wrote. “In turn, this suggests that intelligent life is likely to be exceptionally rare.”
Given the distances no one will ever know one way or the other but the possibility that this is all there is remains genuine. Much too much improbability for the necessary sequences ever to have happened elsewhere. Still, it is absurd to think that my consciousness and yours are all the self-reflection that the universe has ever created.